Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I forgot to post the below as I had to save it to my computer as I lost the Internet connection - guess they got wise to those of us who were opening our Internet in the Internet room or our hotel room and walking into the presentation rooms with it still logged in. But, I did get lots posted before I got knocked out. As you can see the presenters had a lot to say and so did I! I leave the literature based workshops fired up to read. But, bear with my rambling!

There may be more as I leave for the SLJ Summit in Hollywood, FL tomorrow. It was fastistic last time so I am looking forward to it and hope I have time o blg.

Can’t get online this morning (Sunday, November 9) so I am doing this posting as a Word doc and will post it when I get home later today. Rosemary Chance and Teri Lesesne are presenting on challenged books, with Julie Ann Peters, Coe Booth and Barry Lyga.

Teri addressed the problems with reading levels:
Reading level for Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy is 4.5! This is why I detest AR – someone may purchase this book for an elementary school and it is about a MS age boy who is sexually abused by a teacher! Every high school library should have this book and another copy in the counselor’s office, but an elementary school – no way!! Reading level has nothing to do with theme/topic etc.

Lyga’s newest is Hero Type and it has a bluish cover. Lyga signed copies yesterday with a pen to match! Raises the question of what it means to be a hero and patriotic.

Rosemary says these books have “yikes!” moments.
Luna has a RL of 3.5 RL. Julie Anne Peters does not write for children! She writes for teens and a book on transgender is not an issue I want to discuss with a third grader! Another Peters’ book grl2grl: Short fictions– a set of short stories about lesbian and transgendered teens.

Tyrell by Coe Booth has a 4.4 RL – a 15 year old boy whose family lives in a roach infested motel and he is responsible for his 7 year old brother and his mother.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has an RL of 5.3. A horrific futuristic world – not a book I’d hand to a 4th grader reading above grade level!

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.
has RL of 6.1. but it is a “brutal” read. I have not read this one and now I want to!

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Myers has a RL of 4.8. There is no way I am giving this to even a middle schooler with the rough sex and obscene pregnancy. I agree with Rosemary that this book is for HS, not younger.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott–
Character sexually abused by a man who threatens to kill her family. I have not read this one yet, but sounds like I need to, though it is going to be disconcerting.

Barry Lyga – initially no “problems” with Boy Toy and he was prepared for the challenges. Instead it received wonderful awards. After all, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has a masturbation scene. So Boy Toy is going to really get hit – abuse of a boy by a female teacher is “worse” than that, isn’t it? What Lyga discovered is a “gate-keeper” problem. Librarians and book store buyers are not carrying Boy Toy. “Love the book but somebody might complain” – this is the kind of pre-censorship comments we hear about books like this. “Such a great book, but I can’t recommend it to anyone” is another comment Lyga heard. This technique causes readers to never know about this book - how sad. Also happened to him with The Amazing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl – actually condemns school shootings, but the idea is enough for librarians to de-select it.

Julie Ann Peters – wants her books to be banned! That means they got into the library! She gets many reader letters that show why teen readers read – they need to see themselves portrayed in books. “People listen to books the way they listen to nothing else” – a female teen reader comment of Luna. I love how she says “listen”. Another teenage girl who writes beautifully herself - “I don’t pick out books – my fingers do it for me. My fingers dance across the spines. “ – written as beautifully as a poem. She read every one of Peters’ books. “I live in suburban Texas – most homophobic environment is within her own family. Never ashamed of it except for when I told my sister.” She is asking for advice. Another girl wrote of how she was repeatedly beat up and even raped by the boys a restraining order was files against.

Some funny letters too. What do you say when you call someone and don’t know what to talk about? “My question is this – What the heck’s the world’s problem?... I don’t know why I wrote this letter. ” “One thing I like about your books is you’re a writer. Seems like you are a teen like us, not one of those old boring authors.”

She asked teens what they would like her to tell librarians:
“My school librarian refuses to order what she calls controversial books.”
“I have very low expectations…”
“My school librarian is like awesome Dude! Other books like JAP (Julie Ann Peters). “

From adults
Wish they’d had these books when they were teens.
And letters from mothers …. “my 13-year-old daughter now thinks she is a lesbian when she read this crap.”

“What if I feel like I am not any orientation?” – from a teen.

Coe Booth –
Doesn’t know of Tyrell being challenged – she thinks it is being kept away from the teens. In the adult section of PL and not in school libraries, on a restricted shelf, etc. She wrote it for reluctant reader boys. 15 and 16 year old tell her it is the first book they have read all the way through. Some wanted a “happy ending” – even the tough kids, they want everything to work out for the character.

Goal is to write “real stories” – she was a social worker in the Bronx. They are living the experiences tougher than Tyrell. To say they can’t read about it in a book doesn’t make any sense at all to her.

Many teens use the term niggah and may not know the history of this word in their own culture.

Parents in Switzerland had her uninvited to speak at a school after they read the book even though the students were reading Tyrell in class!

Adults must be incompetent so the teens can solve their own problems. Teens don’t think adults know what adults are talking about anyway.

Lyga, as a child, told her grandmother he wanted to be a writer and she said, “Oh, so you want to starve!”

Peters always wanted to be a teacher and she “was the world’s worst teacher”. She has a masters in computer science and didn’t like what she was doing. She told her partner she had quit her job and wants to be a writer! She taught herself how to be a writer.

We had to have a bit o fun. outside of the confence scene and had so much fun - can't go Nashville and go do something fun,

Amber and I had a great time at the Ryman Theater, the previous home of the Opry, last night. It is very much like a church with stained glass windows and pews for seating. The “local flavor” restaurants had long waits so we ate in Joe’s Crab Shack! I did not order seafood, just didn’t seem to be the right thing to eat in Nashville. The line to get in to Ryman was a couple of blocks long but we were seated just in time to hear Randy Travis. He is as good live as on CD – wish he had sung a few more. After Travis’ wonderful voice, Kevin Costner’s “singing” was less than wonderful! He might be okay in a club environment, but not on the same stage as Randy Travis and Vince Gill. Lots of Costner’s fans in the audience though. I had to wait until the very end of the night to hear Josh Turner. His deep voice is…. well, let’s just say it can make me go weak in the knees. Yes, I know – I’m probably old enough to be his mother, but I can “drool” over that voice!

The reception last night was wonderful – the networking is one of my favorite parts of any conference, especially the folks I was on Best Books in Young Adults back in the mid 90s. We also walked out of the room with books again. Hauled all of those out to the car this morning. Can’t wait to dive into reading.